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Can You Save Money by Becoming a Vegetarian?

Vegetarianism is rapidly gaining popularity amongst health and conservation enthusiasts. In this article, we analyse if going green in Singapore is also a healthier option for your wallet.

There are numerous reasons as to why people go vegetarian. Religions like Buddhism and Hinduism have practiced vegetarianism over many centuries, while more recent vegetarians have cited health, ethical and environmental reasons for their culinary choice. The increase in vegetarian-dedicated food stores and organic grocery marts in Singapore have also made adopting vegetarianism an efficient option for both cooking at home and dining out. Join us as we explore if going vegetarian can result in more economical culinary experiences for you.

Cost of Dining out: Only a Slight Edge for Vegetarians

According to research done by Nielson, 72% of Singaporeans eat out for dinner with 66% opting for lunch outside due to busy work/study-life schedules. Furthermore, the data we collected has shown that vegetarian meals are generally less expensive than meat-based dishes in various restaurants and hawkers in Singapore.

Type of FoodVegetarianNon-Vegetarian
Avg. of 3 Budget Hawkers (1pax)$2.50$3.70
Avg. of 3 Mid-range Cafés/Restaurants (1pax)$8.60$12.00
Avg. of 3 CBD Restaurants (1pax)$14.00$14.50
Avg. of 3 Fancy Restaurants (1pax)$25.60$35

That being said, vegan-based stalls like Veganburg and Original Sin (though a welcome convenience and diversity for vegetarians) charge similar, if not higher, prices for average meals as compared to restaurants in the CBD that serve both meat and vegetarian fare. Furthermore, while vegetarian meals are generally less pricey than meat-based meals, the average cost of both variants are mostly equivalent in CBD areas.

Cost of Cooking at Home: Vegetarian Is Significantly Cheaper

Many will agree that cooking at home is both a healthier and a more affordable option with planning and the right credit cards. For instance, the average cost of basic meat products are significantly higher than the basic vegetable selections offered at various supermarkets in Singapore. The same can be said for comparisons between organic meats and vegetables.

veggies are significantly cheaper to buy at grocery stores than meat

While vegetables are generally cheaper than their meat counterparts, be sure to bear in mind that a variety of vegetables might be required to elevate the flavor of dishes. Furthermore, leafy vegetables tend to shrink when stir-fried so you could end up buying more, though vegetable-based meals will generally still cost less at the end of the day. The bonus here is that fresh vegetables usually have a longer shelf life than fresh meat so one does not have to consume entire packets of vegetables in one sitting.

Good Health Means Less Medical Expenses

Scientific research has shown that vegetarians are generally less prone to 4 major ailments: Cancer, Diabetes, Meat-based illnesses and Cardiovascular diseases. According to the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, vegetarians have lower risks of developing cancers while frequent meat consumers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, vegetarians need not fear meat-based diseases such as tapeworms and trichinosis. Not only that, the risks of contracting cardiovascular diseases amongst vegetarians are significantly lower as compared to their meat-eating counterparts.

The costs of healthcare for both cancer and cardiovascular diseases can be exorbitant. By reducing the risks of these life-threatening diseases, not only do you reduce spendings but also benefit from longevity and less health-related suffering. Combined with affordable insurance plans, you will find yourself spending much less on costly medical fees.

Critical illnesses like heart problems and cancers can cost thousands of dollars to treat in Singapore

What’s more, a research on 38,000 participants has shown that vegetarians are more likely to have a lower body mass index than meat-consumers. This reduces the need for extra money spent on slimming treatments—including fat-burners, weight management programs, and weight loss devices. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean that vegetarians do not need to exercise as maintaining physical health requires work regardless of your eating habits. For those who spend majority of their time working at a desk, consider taking up a gym membership to further enhance your health.

Key Takeaways

The final takeaway is that going vegetarian can be healthier for your wallet and your body. Still, the key to maintaining financial and physical health is to plan ahead. For those who prefer cooking, individual vegetable produce is often cheaper than individual meat items. Due to varying cooking styles and eating habits, however, one might need to purchase more vegetable products for a complete meal as opposed to meat products (hence the importance of planning meal ingredients beforehand). As for those who prefer to eat out, vegetarian meals are usually cheaper, though vegan-based stalls/restaurants can sometimes cost more. You should therefore research dining venues beforehand to avoid exceeding your budgets.

Duckju Kang

Duckju (DJ) is the founder and CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting and investing. He previously worked at hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital. He graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with honors, Magna Cum Laude. His work has been featured on major international media such as CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, the Straits Times, Today and more.

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